I want to start this review by saying that I love reading Hellboy. I’m not a huge fan of super hero comics, but Hellboy gets a pass. I’ve been reading Hellboy on and off for about a decade and I’ve read most of the other spin off series as well.
But enough about the comics. Let’s talk about this anthology: An Assortment of Horrors.
What is it?
This is a collection of short stories written in the Hellboy universe by star writers in the horror, mystery, and thriller genres and edited by Christopher Golden. Up until this point I had never read any of the prose Hellboy stories, I’d only read the comics (and I have read every Hellboy comic out there). What caught my attention was one of the authors collected within. One of my favorite writers, Laird Barron, the modern king of dark fiction, has a story in here! I had to find a copy, and I’m glad I did.
My favorite thing about reading this collection was getting to hang out with the characters from one of my favorite story universes all over again. I especially loved A Quiet Night in the Library by E. Lily Yu with Roger the homunculus. It was bitter sweet given what happens to him later on in the official cannon.
There were a few stories focused on Liz, a human with sometimes uncontrollable pyrokinesis. (One More Radical Stone Fox, Burning Girls). They were amazing deep dives into her as a person adding to her history and helping to explain her as a character.
I would’ve liked to see more of Abe, the human fish hybrid, since he is one of the major three characters of the Hellboy universe. He only makes one small appearance in one story.
My Favorite Stories
When Doves Cry by Delilah S. Dawson was a ton of fun. The author did a great job of capturing Hellboy’s voice. And the monster of the story was interesting and had believable motives.
The Red Right Hand by Paul Tremblay was a heartbreaking story of a girl and her father dealing with the loss of her mother. The way the author progresses the story is genius and the ending is perfect and still has a fun Hellboy vs monster tussell.
Of Boys and Two Headed Dogs by Laird Barron. As I mentioned above, Laird is one of my favorite authors, and I was not at all surprised at the quality of his entry. It mixes a couple of my favorite things: backwoods neo-nazi bootleggers (a la Green Room) and folklore/mythology based horror. It is so damn good!
Tales of the Worm Lord by Nathan Ballingrud. This is another author I highly recommend checking out. His stuff is always horrific and thought provoking. This story particularly reminded me of Clive Barker’s short story, In The Hills The Cities, in a wonderful way.
If you have not had the pleasure of reading anything from the Hellboy universe this is a perfect place to start. Give it a chance and than dive into the 25 years of available comic books.